Newcastle to axe five as Eddie Howe clears deck for England ace Man City won’t stand in the way of

England internationals Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and James Maddison

Man City have left the door ajar for Newcastle to sign an England ace, and a report has revealed five first-teamers Eddie Howe could see off to help clear the decks.

The Magpies kept their powder relatively dry in the winter window in the knowledge whatever they spent would detract from their summer budget.

Australian wonderkid Garang Kuol appeared like he may be Newcastle’s only signing for much of the month. However, before the deadline rolled around, Anthony Gordon and Harrison Ashby were added to the mix.

Ashby is viewed as the long-term successor to Kieran Trippier, while Gordon will expect to make a more immediate impact following his £45m (including add-ons) arrival.

However, one area Newcastle sought to address but failed to do so was central midfield. That was despite weakening their ranks through selling Jonjo Shelvey to Nottingham Forest.

Eddie Howe ha since admitted his side are “light” in the middle and a more attack-minded option is on the agenda for the summer.

Leicester City’s James Maddison has long been on Newcastle’s radar. Indeed, the Magpies lodged an official bid last summer and per the Northern Echo, made ‘another enquiry’ last month.

Leicester were unwilling to entertain any offers for the 26-year-old playmaker given their perilous position in the league. Brendan Rodgers’ side currently sit just three points clear of the relegation zone.

However, with Maddison now in the final 18 months of his contract, it could be a different story come the summer.

Newcastle back in for James Maddison

The Northern Echo report Newcastle fully intend to try their luck for Maddison once again at season’s end. In their words, they’ll make a ‘renewed attempt’ to sign the creative force.

They hope Maddison’s contract status will embolden Leicester to cash in while they still can. The lure of European football and a move well up the league could also appeal to the player.

To help clear up both room and funds for the move, it’s noted five current first-teamers who are all out of contract in the summer aren’t likely to be offered fresh terms.

Goalkeeping pair Loris Karius and Mark Gillespie, centre-back Ciaran Clark, full-back Paul Dummett and midfielder Matty Longstaff ‘could well be released at the end of the current campaign’, per the report. Doing so would free up a sizeable chunk from the wage books.

Man City eyeing another Englishman instead

The report notes Man City have been sniffing around Maddison in the past as Pep Guardiola’s side size up a long-term successor for Kevin De Bruyne who is now 31.

However, according to the Telegraph, City have recently ‘distanced themselves’ from pursuing Maddison as they throw all their eggs in the Jude Bellingham basket.

That news will be greeted with trepidation over at Anfield given Bellingham is Liverpool’s primary midfield target. However, it’ll bring a smile to the face of Eddie Howe and co. who now seemingly have a clear run at Maddison.

Maddison continues to be among the league’s top performers year after year despite not playing for one the top flight’s traditional ‘big six’ teams.

He’s bagged eight goals and four assists in 15 Premier League matches this term. Those returns backed up another superb campaign last year when Maddison scored 12 and provided eight assists in 35 league encounters.

The Northern Echo report notes Newcastle have previously been willing to pay £40m for the playmaker. Given he’ll be entering the final year of his contract at season’s end, a figure in that range may be all that’s required.

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